COLUMN: Women's soccer can make strong postseason run
Another Mid-American Conference title is within reach for the women’s soccer team, along with a slot in the NCAA tournament.
After defeating Northern Illinois 2-0 on Sunday in the quarterfinals, Central Michigan will now face No. 6 Toledo Friday in Miami for the semifinals.
Holding the No. 2 seed, the Chippewas are a solid team that’s grown tremendously since the beginning of the season.
Earlier this season, CMU bested Toledo 2-0. The Chippewas have only had two conference losses this season—Eastern Michigan and Miami (Ohio).
Back in September, CMU fell to the Eagles, suffering their first conference loss. During that game, the Chippewas faced accuracy issues they haven’t encountered since.
Offensively, CMU is in a better place than when it struggled against EMU. Since that game, the Chippewas have scored 17 goals. Sophomore forward Laura Gosse and junior midfielder Jennifer Gassman lead the team in scoring throughout the season with four apiece, while six other teammates have recorded more than two goals.
There’s no denying the team is well-balanced in scoring and in no way one-dimensional in their execution.
With a hunger for a third MAC title in four years, expect the Chippewas to come out full throttle on Friday and connect with their shots.
Assuming CMU clinches that win and moves on to the finals and the No. 1 seed Miami (Ohio) also remains, I foresee a completely winnable game for the Chippewas.
The RedHawks handed CMU its only other conference loss in a 1-0 double overtime heart breaker.
The Chippewas will look to avenge that loss and also give their senior class, which holds the most wins in program history (62), another title as they end their collegiate careers.
The regular season game against Miami came down to one play that didn’t go right for the Chippewas. This time, it'll work hard to make sure everything goes its way.
As witnessed in Sunday’s win over the Huskies, the Chippewas have become a patient team.
The game was scoreless midway through the second half, but CMU didn’t fall apart or become sloppy, even in a physical game with a lot at stake; it waited.
The upcoming game, and presumably the one after, are some of the highest stakes the team will ever face, but don’t expect it to be fearful or crack under the weight of it all.
As the season has progressed, the team has continued to cope under pressure and come out on top, save the unfortunate outcome of the regular season Miami game. The Chippewas have what it takes to come reclaim their title if they stay on the course head coach Neil Stafford has put them on and maintain their mental focus.
It also seems likely for CMU to earn a spot in the NCAA tournament, maybe even regardless of a MAC championship. In the latest NCAA RPI rankings, the Chippewas are ranked 32nd of 323 teams, the highest-ranked MAC team in the standings.
Don’t be surprised if this team continues to win, break records and achieve new milestones for the soccer program; I know they won’t be.